Future physicians need telemedicine education, training

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The rise of telemedicine will require that medical education cover new skills to teach future physicians how to use it effectively and ensure proper quality of care, according to a viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors, from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, cite potential advantages to telemedicine, such as allowing clinicians to see the home of a child with cystic fibrosis to assess environmental risk factors, and talk to family members.

They write that because of the promise telemedicine holds for care, "educators across the continuum of medical education must help prepare physicians to engage in the safe and effective use of telemedicine."

Medical educators could help prepare physicians by helping them practice remote evaluation through standardized patient encounters and difficult discussions that might arise.

"Health technology often changes faster than medical regulation, and physicians should ensure that novel delivery platforms meet professional standards for quality, safety and confidentiality," they say.

However, there are potential pitfalls the the tech's use, the viewpoint adds. Those include an increased workload for physicians and the potential that virtual visits could jeopardize care by not meeting professional standards for a clinical encounter.

Twenty new institutions recently joined the American Medical Association's effort to bring medical education into the 21st century and are involved in projects such as developing advanced simulation and telemedicine technologies and addressing unique healthcare needs of underserved and diverse communities.

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